Founding
Evolution
Present and Future

Nearly fifty years after LPL’s creation, many of its original founders are still active in the field of planetary science. In the fall of 2006, Head and Director Michael J. Drake decided to take advantage of this unique opportunity by initiating an oral history project, as part of the Space Grant Internship Program. Melissa Lamberton, a UA undergraduate, undertook the task of interviewing current and previous faculty, staff and students.

This web site compiles excerpts from more than fifty interviews, describing LPL’s remarkable journey from a small research organization to a leader in planetary science. It recounts the founding of the laboratory in the midst of America’s race to the Moon, its evolution into a prominent teaching department, and finally visions for its future. The scope of LPL’s activities is far vaster than what is presented here. But these memoirs seek to capture the excitement of exploring new worlds through the eyes of those that saw them first.

Amy Phillips played an important role in formulating the concept of this project. Special thanks go out to Ewen Whitaker, Elizabeth Roemer, William Hartmann, and Susan Brew for their enthusiasm and support. Historical photographs for the project were provided by Maria Schuchardt, Ewen Whitaker, Dale Cruikshank, and John and Jane Spencer. Thanks also to Kenneth Domanik and the Microprobe Lab for sharing the computers, and to all the participants of the project.

Melissa L. Lamberton
Michael J. Drake, Head and Director
May 2008